E-commerce involves processes that cover selling products and services via the internet. Customers from different places visit the website or different online marketplace to buy products.
The payment is mostly completed via electronic means, after which the merchant will ship the product and service to the user.
E-commerce has been around for many years, and we can trace it back to the 1990s when Amazon sold books online.
Today, statistics show that e-commerce has experienced huge growth, with its spending hitting about $350 billion during the first half of 2020. Also, the number increases by 30% each year.
There are many factors that have contributed to the global growth of e-commerce today.
For anyone trying to explore this business option, you might be wondering how e-commerce actually works. Here’s what you should know.
How Does E-Commerce Work?
The principles of physical stores are widely applied to e-commerce today. It begins with customers locating the e-commerce store, going through the products they offer, selecting the products they want, and making a purchase.
The only difference between an e-commerce store and a physical store is that customers don’t need to move before they can make a purchase. Another amazing thing is that your customer base is not bound by location.
Regardless of the type of product you want to sell in an e-commerce store, all the processes involved are the same. Here’s an overview of how it works:
- Accept the order: It begins with a customer placing an order on your e-commerce platform. Once the order is placed, you’ll receive an alert for you to confirm that you have received the order.
- Process the order: After receiving the order, and the payment has been successfully made, the next thing is complete the sale. For payment, you’ll need a reliable payment gateway, and this is what replaces the physical cash that is used in physical stores.
- Ship the order: The final step in the e-commerce process involves shipping the order to the customer. If you plan to run an ecommerce business, it’s advisable to provide delivery of goods and services as fast as possible. Usually, delivery within the same region shouldn’t go more than two days.
These processes are widely applied in every e-commerce store today, irrespective of the type of products or services they offer.
Types of e-commerce platforms?
E-commerce platform is the software that runs your website, and one of the main features of an e-commerce platform is the shopping cart functionality. There are a range of other features and tools that are applied in managing the different aspects of a business.
The type of e-commerce platform you use is what will determine the features that your website will enjoy. Here’s an overview of the different types of e-commerce platforms.
SaaS is short for Software as a Service, and it describes software that is provided for end users on the internet. They don’t just reside on computers, but they are actually provided on the cloud, and you’ll need a web browser to access them.
Using SaaS does not require any form of downloading or installation on your computer. You only need a stable internet connection and an account on the Saas e-commerce provider you use. The provider will then handle every other thing, especially the technical side.
Unlike SaaS, this is software with its source codes being made available for free public use. Therefore, developers can make changes to the software according to their preferences.
This freedom also allows the availability of open-source software in different versions. These versions are mostly provided by different developers.
Even though availability is a major advantage of open-source e-commerce platforms, it’s worth noting that with the versions from a different developer, the original developer of the software won’t be able to provide support for you.
These are software that are available for sale, and most businesses purchase them to facilitate the running of their business. Basically, you’re buying the license so that you can use the software for as long as you want to.
Also, you get access to updates after purchasing the license. However, this software is usually expensive, and not everyone can afford to pay for the license, especially for startup businesses.
Businesses develop this software for their personal use. The business can also decide to own a server for the control of its data. However, this is an expensive option, which is why only a few businesses choose proprietary e-commerce platforms.
Another thing about this option is that the business would be responsible for security. This includes PCI compliance.
PaaS stands for Platform as a Service, and it’s a platform where you can build your software and connect it to your business.
This option is dedicated to large companies, especially B2B companies, with enough resources to build on the infrastructure.
What makes a great e-commerce site: 8 tips and examples
With everything mentioned above, the next thing is understanding how to create a great e-commerce site. Continue reading to find tips and examples of the key things that make a great e-commerce site.
There are different reviews on the internet, all showing that more than half of all transactions completed online are from mobile devices.
In general, people are more likely to buy from a mobile device than from a computer device. With a mobile-friendly layout, you can be sure to double your conversion rate with ease.
Most of the great e-commerce websites today are all responsive on mobile devices, and this is to ensure that they maximize all the options to gain more conversion.
An example of a mobile-friendly e-commerce website is Etsy. You can access this site from websites and tablet devices, and you don’t always need to use a mobile device.
Readable and Engaging Content (Content is king)
An e-commerce website is incomplete without content. As highlighted above, content is king, and this is an important thing to pay attention to when designing your e-commerce website.
There are many ways to include content on your e-commerce website, and this can be via written product descriptions or even with the use of visual content.
When including content on your e-commerce website, you need to ensure that they are engaging and readable. This is also a great way to increase your conversion rate and also boost sales.
If you check most of the top e-commerce websites online, you’ll find that they all have readable and engaging content. An example to check is eBay, and this is something that you can emulate on your own ecommerce website.
Eye-catching and Responsive Images (Visual is Queen)
Content and visuals go hand in hand, and while ensuring the use of engaging content on your website, you also need to include eye-catching and responsive images, both photos and vector illustrations.
This is a strategy that you should apply, especially if you’re looking to reduce the bounce rate on your e-commerce website.
Top e-commerce websites like Walmart understand the importance of using eye-catching and responsive images, and this is a strategy they apply to every part of their website. Basically, the importance of using eye-catching and responsive images cannot be overemphasized.
The big question is where to get eye-catching and responsive free photos, free silhouette vectors, and free illustrations and vector graphics from.
Fortunately, with the rapid development of the image market, you have multiple options to choose from, including royalty-free stock platforms to open resources, where free illustrations for UI design can be found and downloaded easily.
All the features that we have mentioned above are irrelevant if you don’t keep navigation in mind. E-commerce websites should always have users in mind, and one way to ensure that your users enjoy visiting your e-commerce website is by making it easy to navigate.
Leading websites like AliExpress are all easy to navigate. You can easily find anything you are looking for, and if you have issues navigating the website, there’s always the search option which makes everything easier and stress-free.
Effortless and Safe Shopping Journey
We have already highlighted some of the main processes that every e-commerce website follows.
While these processes are the same for all e-commerce websites, the difference lies in the experience that customers get as they navigate through each of these processes.
The key features to make the shopping journey safe and effortless include a seamless shopping cart and checkout process.
In addition, the website also needs to ensure that user’s personal and financial information is safe, and this is the part where they need to use a formidable security system for data protection.
Mercado Livre is a Brazilian e-commerce website with a seamless shopping cart, checkout process, and good security for data protection.
Consistent Business Branding
Branding is also a key area to pay attention to, and there are different ways to go about it. This includes the logo you use, your color combinations, and even your fonts.
Ensuring branding is a great way to enhance the growth of your e-commerce website and also ensure that you easily build trust with your users.
The screenshot below is that of WooCommerce, which is also a leading e-commerce website today. From their logo to the font style and font color they use, there are different elements that are unique to the company alone.
Localization is also a key consideration and a feature that the best e-commerce websites apply today.
If you’re looking to create an e-commerce website that will get you conversions from different parts of the world, this is a feature you’ll need to ensure.
Basically, localization involves making your e-commerce website available to people in different parts of the world.
For this, you only need to provide the website in different languages and also provide payment options that can be used in different parts of the world. An example of an e-commerce website that is already localized is Shift4Shop.
The last thing to ensure is speed optimization. Its importance for e-commerce websites cannot be overemphasized.
The success of every e-commerce website depends on the speed of the website. This is the main feature that influences repeat business, search engine ranking, and conversion rates.
Speed optimization applies to every aspect of your website and its availability on different devices and platforms. Here are some easy ways to increase the speed of your e-commerce:
- Use a content delivery network
- Move your website to a better host
- Reduce the number of plugins
- Optimize the size of images on your website
- Use website caching
- Reduce the use of web fonts
- Database optimization in CMS
- Implement Gzip compression
- Reduce redirects
- Detect 404 errors
- Use prefetching techniques.
These are the main ways to optimize the speed of your websites. To achieve all of this, you’ll need comprehensive and cost-effective web solutions. This is a principle that leading e-commerce websites like Wix utilizes, and you can apply this to your own ecommerce website.
You’ve made it to this point, and by now, you should know the fundamental things about e-commerce websites.
We have covered everything about e-commerce websites, including what they are and how they work.
In addition, we have highlighted the different types of e-commerce platforms, and these are SaaS, Open Source, Licensed, Proprietary, and PaaS.
If you’re considering building your own e-commerce website, you need to know the main factors to look out for, and other factors including the followings:
- Mobile-friendly layout
- Readable and engaging content
- Eye-catching and responsive images
- Clear navigation
- Effortless and safe shopping journey
- Consistent business branding
- Speed optimization
You can find more information about each factor with key examples to guide you above.